Skip to main content

At this stage your child will be entering into their first few years of education.

At this stage your child will be entering into their first few years of education. Watching them try new activities, cheering them on at sports day and applauding them in school plays are usually some of the high points for most parents.

At this age your child will be developing a strong sense of independence. They will be socialising mainly with children around their same age and building new relationships and friendships independent of their family.

The following provides information about these stages of your child’s development and some tips for what you can do to support your child. Your child may do some things earlier or later than suggested here.

If you are worried about your child’s development – ask your health visitor, GP or Foundation Phase setting/school.

Between 5-6 years your child may:

  • Be able to hold scissors properly and cut shapes from paper with them.
  • Be able to draw more recognisable pictures such as houses, cars, flowers and people.
  • Be able to write one or two letters in their name and recognise and sing along to the alphabet song.
  • Start to exclude other children during play as regular friendships begin to form. They may tend towards friendships with children of the same sex. They may also feel a strong need to be accepted by their peers and feeling they are being ‘left out’ can upset them.
  • Be able to write small words such as ‘dog’, ‘cat’, mum’ and ‘dad’ and recognise the difference between small and capital letters. It is normal for children of this age to write certain letters backwards. 
  • Remember stories and start to act them out with their toys or ask you to role play.
  • Start to recognise rhymes in books and in songs.
  • Eat more heartily as they burn more energy during full days in school without napping. 
  • Be tired and need more ‘quiet’ time to process their day; they may become more irritable for a while as they adjust to full days. 

Between 6-7 years your child may:

  • Be able to tie their shoes
  • Be able to count up to 100 and count a few numbers backwards.
  • Be able to do some basic maths such as adding '1 apple to 2 apples makes 3 apples' and will be able to tell when numbers are higher than other number.
  • Be able to give their full name and know their age, birthday and where they live.
  • Be able to start making up rhymes and enjoy simple jokes.
  • Have an average vocabulary of over 5,000 words.
  • Be able to read up to ten easy and familiar words, such as 'cat' and 'dog', and read some simple books. They may be able to copy short words and write some familiar words without help.
  • Be able to hop on both legs, skip, jump with both feet, walk steadily on low walls or beams, catch a ball with their hands rather than their arms, and may be able to ride a bike with or without stabilisers.

Tips to encourage and support your child's development

  • A day at school can be tiring for your child and can lead to some grumpy behaviour. Giving your child lots of cuddles, individual attention and encouraging quiet, calming activities may help. You may also want to consider setting consequences if they are not behaving as you would like them to. 
  • Show an interest in what your child has to say. This will let your child know they are important to you. Encourage them to talk by using open questions like “Tell me the best thing about your day?”
  • Ask them to make up new endings to their favourite stories to help with their creative thinking.
  • Try to stick to routines and visit familiar places which give your child security. They will be introduced to so many new challenges and will take comfort in the safety of things they feel familiar with.
  • They will start to lose their baby teeth so it’s important to see a Dentist every 6 months and encourage a healthy brushing routine twice a day.
  • Encourage them to be more active by taking part in an activity they enjoy such as football or swimming. This will help them to keep healthy, to sleep better and to enjoy being active from a young age which will help them as they get older. 
  • They are still developing and learning how to fit in. Tantrums, anger and frustration will still happen; this is completely normal. 
  • Talk to your child about their feelings. This helps them put words to these feelings.
  • Try to set aside some time for play as it is still very important at this age. Let your child choose how they want to spend this time and take the time to join in. This will give you the chance to enter their world and find out what they are thinking and feeling. 
  • Try to make play time work for you when things get busy. Get them to help you with simple tasks like tidying up, putting away clothes, or laying the table, maybe do this to music or when singing. Getting them to help out around the house will help them to feel grown up and can support positive behaviour. 
  • Try to reduce the amount of time spent in front of the television or on tablets and phones. You can spend time with your child by using Apps that develop their skills. The National Literacy Trust have a wide range of free Apps to download (External link)
  • There are lots of wonderful sources of information with songs, books and play activities available to support their reading and writing here:

What doesn’t work

  • Smacking doesn’t work. It can turn things into a major battle. It may teach your child that it is OK to hit someone younger than them.
  • Avoid put downs. If your child hears too many put downs it can affect their self-esteem. Try to encourage effort instead.
  • Don’t punish your child’s mistakes and accidents or criticise your child when they get it wrong. Your child is still learning. Praise them and encourage them when they get it right.

It’s OK to ask for help. If you are worried about feeling stressed, low or depressed talk to your health visitor or GP.